Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Harvard Law Review Spikes Commissioned Article On Genocide In Gaza

The Intercept, Harvard Law Review Editors Vote to Kill Article About Genocide in Gaza:

HarvardThe article on the Gaza war and the Nakba was commissioned, edited, fact-checked, and prepared for publication — but was then blocked amid a climate of fear.

A week after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, by which time Israel’s all-out assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had killed thousands of civilians, the online editors of the prestigious Harvard Law Review reached out to Rabea Eghbariah.

The two online chairs, as they are called, had decided to solicit an essay from a Palestinian scholar for the journal’s website. Eghbariah was an obvious choice: A Palestinian doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School and human rights lawyer, he has tried landmark Palestinian civil rights cases before the Israeli Supreme Court.

Eghbariah submitted a draft of a 2,000-word essay by early November. He argued that Israel’s assault on Gaza should be evaluated within and beyond the “legal framework” of “genocide.”

In line with the Law Review’s standard procedures, the piece was solicited, commissioned, contracted, submitted, edited, fact checked, copy edited, and approved by the relevant editors. Yet it will never be published with the Harvard Law Review.

Following an intervention to delay the publication of Eghbariah’s article by the Harvard Law Review president, the piece went through several committee processes before it was finally killed by an emergency meeting of editors. The essay, “The Ongoing Nakba,” would have been the first from a Palestinian scholar published by the journal. ...

Eghbariah’s article was published Tuesday night at The Nation, under the headline “The Harvard Law Review Refused to Run This Piece About Genocide in Gaza.”

For some of the more than 100 editors at the Harvard Law Review, the delay and subsequent killing of Eghbariah’s piece did not hew to the usual process. In a forthcoming public statement viewed by The Intercept, 25 Harvard Law Review editors objected to the move to squash the essay.

“We are unaware of any other solicited piece that has been revoked by the Law Review in this way,” the editors wrote. “This unprecedented decision threatens academic freedom and perpetuates the suppression of Palestinian voices. We dissent.”

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Harvard Law Review "On-Line" Pulls Article That Expressed Incorrect Views About Israel and Palestine:

When one considers all the actual crap published by Harvard and other student-edited law reviews, the idea that this decision has anything to do with the "quality" of the essay, as opposed to its point of view, is beyond absurd.

Paul Horwitz (Alabama), Some Thoughts About the Latest Law Review Imbroglio

This incident may be unusual. But it's not unique. It ain't all about Gaza and the political sensitivities around it, or Bill Ackman or "doxxing trucks." If this was a wrongful act of censorship, then so was the effort first to bowdlerize and then the outright cancellation of Larry Alexander's piece in the Emory Law Journal not so long ago. If the HLR editors demanding that an accepted publication be spiked despite its having gone through the usual processes constitutes a (successful) effort at censorship, then a similar label should attach to the (unsuccessful) effort of Oxford University Press USA employees to get the press to "reconsider" its publication of Holly Lawford-Smith's book Gender-Critical Feminism. The same goes for the American Indian Law Review's abrupt rejection, also of reasonably recent vintage, of an article it had already agreed to publish.

If the more general argument is that the editors wrongly took political considerations into account instead of simply publishing a plausibly acceptable scholarly writing, I welcome it! But any honest reader of law reviews in the past several years (not to speak of years past) must acknowledge that their selection process has been quite political--increasingly so--even (or especially) when such selections are not visible. (Sometimes they are. When you run a whole issue or symposium devoted to a particular politically inflected substantive view and exclude any questioning, doubting, or critical views, even when it's obvious that such views exist and that there is ample room for serious, good-faith scholarly questions and criticism on the topic, that's a visibly political decision, as well as a bad one.) As I said, I doubt politics were at the bottom of the editors' action here. But if people believe otherwise and still have a problem with it, they will not lack occasions for alarm.

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink